FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Home series with Penn State, Seton Hall, and Rhode Island, along with a home-and-home with Tennessee and a trip to Chicago highlight the 2013 ETSU baseball schedule as head coach Tony Skole released the Buccaneer slate on Wednesday afternoon.
Overall, the Blue and Gold will play 31 of their 56 games inside the friendly confines of Thomas Stadium, including 15 of the first 16 games to start the season.
“We are very excited about this schedule,” said Skole. “There is no doubt it will be a great test for our program, but we are looking forward to the challenge. Our non-conference slate will, once again, be very difficult, but we think it will prepare us for the rigors of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
“We have had an extremely productive fall and winter. We are fortunate to have some outstanding leadership returning, but we have also added some talented new faces that our fans are going to enjoy watching compete. Early on, we have to find out what this team can do, and what better way to do that than to find out at home.”
ETSU opens the season with seven straight home games, beginning with a three-game series against Big Ten foe Penn State on Friday, Feb. 15. Following the weekend showdown with the Nittany Lions, the Bucs host Wofford in a midweek game on Feb. 19, before closing out the homestand with 2011 NCAA Regional participant Seton Hall the weekend of Feb. 22-24.
Coming off a trip to Tennessee on Feb. 26, ETSU returns home for eight consecutive home games, starting with a three-game series versus Marist on Friday, March 1. After the Red Foxes – who have made six appearances in the NCAA Regional – the Blue and Gold host reigning Southern Conference Champion Appalachian State on March 5. Prior to wrapping up the home stint on March 12 with Winthrop, the Bucs host a tough Rhode Island squad on March 9 and 10. The Rams have reached the 30-win plateau in each of the last five seasons.
“There is such great anticipation for the completion of Thomas Stadium, so we felt it was paramount to build a home schedule which gives our fans and community as many opportunities to see their team compete against some of the top programs around the region and throughout the nation,” said Skole.
Meanwhile, after taking advantage of the top-heavy home slate, ETSU is scheduled to play 11 of its next 16 games away from Johnson City to close out the month of March and open up April. During the road stretch, the Bucs square off with UNC Asheville (March 13), before opening a demanding Atlantic Sun slate at USC Upstate on March 15. After stepping back out of conference action on March 20 with a return trip to Winthrop, ETSU returns home for a brief four-game swing, beginning with Florida Gulf Coast (March 22-24) and ending against Radford on March 26.
From there, 21 of the final 31 games will pin the Blue and Gold against conference foes as ETSU makes trips Jacksonville for a series at North Florida (March 28-30) and its first-ever trek to Highland Heights, Ky., for three games at A-Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky the weekend of April 5-7.
Sandwiched in between the pair of conference road trips is a midweek home game with in-state rival Tennessee Tech on April 2, followed by the return trip by Tennessee a week later on April 9. The Bucs have defeated the Vols in five of the last six meetings, along with winning the last three games in Johnson City.
Following the single-game showdown with Tennessee, Lipscomb and Kennesaw State visit Thomas Stadium for the first time. The Bisons come to town April 12-14, while the Owls make the trek two weeks later (April 26-28).
The remaining road trips include midweek games with Coach Skole’s and Coach Bunn’s alma mater, The Citadel, on April 17, along with return trips to Radford (April 23), Appalachian State (April 30), and Tennessee Tech (May 1). The last two conference road swings are at Stetson (April 19-21) and Mercer (May 10-12), whereas, the final non-conference, three-game series sends the Blue and Gold to the “Windy City” during the weekend of May 3-5 for games at University of Illinois-Chicago. The Flames have won 10 of the last 14 Horizon League regular season championships and have gone to the NCAA Regional four times in the last 10 seasons.
After their trip to Chicago, the Bucs return home for a midweek game versus UNC Asheville on May 8, while Jacksonville visits Thomas Stadium for the first time to close out the regular season from May 16-18.
For the second straight year and the 10th time in the last 12 years, the conference tournament will be held in DeLand, Fla., from May 22-26. However, the format has changed in 2013 as the top eight teams (previously six) now make the double-elimination tournament and the right to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA Regional.